Debt is depressing as hell.
It’s like your past self is reaching through time and robbing your bank balance on a monthly basis. But once you’re in it, you’re in it — and it’s time to get out. It might feel like a mountain but you’ll get there. We are — slowly but surely. It’s required focus, some entrepreneurialism and sacrifice. But at the time of writing we’ve paid off £1,600 in five months.
The following has helped us focus, prioritise and shrink our total debt.
Face the fear
It’s not a great feeling — but you need to write down exactly how much debt you have, and where it’s owed. Make a note of the interest rates and minimum payments too. Once you’ve got your debts mapped out, you can start planning how to kill them off.
Assess your debt
Work out why you’re in debt; is it due to self-investment such as student loans or professional development? Is it due to everyday overspending? Or maybe you can’t help splurging on holidays? Whatever it is, it’s time to break the cycle. By pinpointing the reasons for your debt, you can stop yourself from getting into more debt in the future.
Optimise your debt
If you have credit card debt, move the balance to a 0% transfer card — this way you’ll stop paying interest and focus on chipping away at the actual money you owe. If this isn’t an option, you might be able to get a low interest loan to pay off higher interest debts.
Create a debt snowball
Got multiple debts? Pick one and throw everything you can at it — but whilst still ensuring all minimum payments are met. Once debt one is paid off, throw everything onto the next debt. Continue until you’re debt free. As you pay off each chunk of debt, the speed at which your debts reduce will ramp up — hence the term ‘snowball’.
Can’t decide which debt to pay off first? If they’re all at a similar low-interest rate, pick the smallest. If you’re paying a ridiculous interest rate on one debt and its substantially higher than the others, get rid of that one first. Either way, do the sums first to make sure you’re prioritising debt payments in the most efficient order.
Increase your income
Whether you clear out possessions to sell, or find yourself a side hustle (or both!) — get some extra dosh in so you can pay your debt off quicker. However, don’t be tempted to spend that extra money on other things. Either buy them once you’re debt free, or from your main income instead.
Decrease your outgoings
You can probably cut back on something, whether its takeaways, coffees or subscription services. Paying off debt needs to take temporary priority. Funnel your cashflow solely at debt repayments. Cutting out a takeaway per month + a coffee per week + your Prime/Netflix subscription = an extra £600 per year towards debt.
We recently reduced some of our bills, and canned Amazon Prime. In total, this has saved us £450.
Track your progress
It’s so important to track your progress; it’s very satisfying and super motivating. The debt-clearing journey can seem like you’re not getting anywhere — particularly when you’re skint and with nothing tangible to show for it. You can use my free printable to remind yourself just how far you’ve come. A bit of positive reinforcement never hurt anyone.